Of course, this extended period of physical suffering includes--and perhaps has predominant impetus in--deeper spiritual conversions.
These periods of immense suffering include the accompanying storms and darkness. The body, mind, heart, and soul are put through the grinder, so to speak. Or, to stick with weather metaphor--all aspects of body, mind, heart, and soul are buffeted by howling winds, pounded by torrential rains, drought-ridden by desert dryness, immobilized and frozen in icy avalanches.
This period of time here, for my body, mind, heart, and soul--seems as if not weathering this storm. Yet, it most certainly must be or I'd not be writing about it.
Last evening, when realizing I have no means to do manual labor, and at a deeper sense no work to be done in any active or acceptable, tangible, capacity in the temporal Catholic Church--and facing the unknowing of when or if the body would be "doing" much again, at all--an email came. It is one that I have received the past three years, asking for some St. Bernard Love of God Bourbon Balls.
I realized the Lord was reaching in, saying, "You can do this. I will let you be able to make these over which you pray and pour love into the efforts."
Making these small and simple confections are usually without obstacles--nothing like other work efforts or interactions with the temporal world that become marathons of perseverance and endurance. Other than if the printer is ornery if more labels are needed, the process is something that my body can manage if I make them in phases. It is so very painful for me to stand in one spot for more than five minutes or even less. And that is the case even when the back pain is at more manageable levels.
There is nothing else in my life right now that I can actually "do" and have satisfactory completion. I am still persevering with kitchen and bathroom cabinets, so those rooms cannot be finished until there is resolution with the store and cabinet company representative. There is nothing else--no other area of life that can be engaged to complete something.
Even all the garden harvest that I processed and froze is ruined. Somehow, the cord came loose from the outlet when a couple weeks ago--surely must have been then--I struggled with each awkward and heavy bathroom base cabinet, having to get them in from the pole barn to the house. Yesterday, when I finally was able to walk the short distance to the pole barn, needing a container of frozen food, I discovered all in the freezers had long-since thawed. There is no meat involved, but the hermit's winter and spring food supply is all but gone.
Can't even empty it out--body not able.
As for what is going on spiritually in this deeper conversion, I've written it to Fr. V. in Nigeria and to a long-time friend, not Catholic, but who reads without comment, and prays. Fr. V. is unlikely to respond with comment other than to remind to pray and remain in Christ's love. Yet, it serves a purpose to express the depths of thoughts, insights, and conclusions when the storms are ravaging the outer and inner earth of our beings.
I am considering on a deeper level such great and successfully spiritual souls as Bruno the Carthusian, John of the Cross, and Joseph Benedict LeBre. Their times of deeper conversions give great insight into those called to a different type of temporal life, a deeper call to live in the spiritual realm while their bodies existed in the temporal world. Even with John of the Cross, his mind, heart, and soul went to another "place" although living amidst his fellow Carmelite religious brothers.
He wrote his great insights and poetry more toward the beginning of his adult life as a consecrated religious and priest. In the very few years between his imprisonment and torture by his fellow priests and monks and his final years of persecution again by his fellow religious, John had brief cohesion of active life utilization of his body, mind, heart, and spirit as spiritual director to Teresa of Avila's religious sisters in the several foundations she made of reformed Carmelites.
Bruno had more temporal Catholic world utilization at the beginning of his priesthood but extending some years when he was priest and professor in Cologne, Germany. His departure from the temporal Catholic world was a decisive separation although previously had been an agreed-upon goal between himself and five or six friends--some of them priests. They had resolved to leave that world and seek union in God without the temporal distractions and the laws of minds that can cause all kinds of obstacles to the "climb up the holy mountain.".
And leave they did, and up the highest mountain they could find in the farthest reaches of the French Alps. Bruno was only called back to the temporal Catholic world once after that, by a pope. He assisted for a short time although the pope wanted him to remain longer in his service. But Bruno left for another foundation of similarly-minded men (again, some of them priests and others not) that later became also a monastery known as part of the Carthusian order. Bruno died there.
He did not formally "found" the order himself. No, he simply (but I am sure with many dyings to self along the way) lived the ideals and in the way he thought was most helpful in climbing the holy mountain, to live spiritually the Christian ideal for achieving Divine Union and living the law of God. He did not write down any laws of mind; he lived in whatever way he sensed could be successful in the repeated deeper conversions which would reach the spiritual summit.
Joseph Benedict LeBre sought entrance to numerous religious orders. He was allowed entrance into several, often with much reservation on the parts of abbots and priors. He never lasted long; they were concerned about what they perceived as his potential to be ill, and a couple superiors sent him on his way due to his becoming ill. In other monastic attempts, he was considered to be at cross-ends with the goals and efforts of the monks themselves. Joseph's focused and desirous seeking of the spiritual realm and of God did not fit in. Out he went.
Joseph had his mind, heart, and soul set on the spiritual heights. Yes, he was crushed repeatedly when sent away from the various religious houses. But that led him to a time of deeper conversion in which he realized he was called to live the life of a "pilgrim." He determined to follow Jesus directly, without the ways and means or laws of minds involved in religious orders or other designated vocations. He wandered for a couple of years or so in France before sensing within a strong calling to walk to Rome.
Joseph LeBre wandered, walked, lived, and prayed as Jesus did in His life ministry. He never encountered his family again. Even in Rome, he lived as a pilgrim--not taking upon himself label of hermit or religious solitary or anything other vocational title. Today he would be likened to a hobo or a homeless person; in Rome, those who noticed him at first considered him a filthy vagrant. He died in the odor of sanctity, on a street, although a priest convinced him to live in his rectory for awhile, living there along with a few other homeless men the priest took in--worn out and ill from their ages, poverty, and harsh living conditions.
These three examples, have roosted in my mind this past day, as they have off and on for several years. As such, these three souls (on earth known as saintly men) assist me in the deeper conversion occurring. Such conversions are unlikely to provide much progress or success if the body is not incapacitated from all activity and distractions. Thus, while difficult to be rid of current temporal distractions due to the pain and the mind's concerns about how will the work progress in this hermitage, how will I be able to do the heavier work once the family leaves the area--a prolonged, incapacitating pain siege allows for that self-concern mindset to pass.
Then the eye of the storm occurs in which the temporal worries and questions and thoughts of even past persecutions or whatever else, are stilled and silenced. That is when His Real Presence shines the light on the deeper conversion and upon the decisions and acceptances that are to be made if one is willing. If not, there will be yet more storms and then eyes of the storms with their opportunities for deeper conversions.
The three men have been in the beam of Christ's light in this day of the eye of this storm. Even though the body could get up and move about a bit more, the pain is enough to remand: lay low, be still. And, there is now the recognition of the storm's purpose, the pain siege's "inner eye." The mind and heart want to pursue the deepening and to be given, in the soul's "eye," the insights and courage required to venture forth and through the other side of this storm.
These three men's life examples of following Jesus in His life and teachings and in the law of God, are with me as companions--as storm chasers, I guess we could say. We don't need to fall victim to storms but rather to see them as they are--natural events brought and allowed by God--and to enter into them knowing that in the storm's eye are the deeper conversions of greater Christ-clarity, of spiritual progression, and hold the graces we carry with us when we pass through them.
God bless His Real Presence in us! Little children, let us love God above all things and love one another as ourselves!